Fighting

Film
3 out of 5 stars
POUND TO HAPPEN Tatum beats out a lucrative living.
POUND TO HAPPEN Tatum beats out a lucrative living.

Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars

Yes, but what is the film about? Such an elliptical title for an action movie. There’s a fun crudeness to Dito Montiel’s bare-knuckle B pic about a scrappy Alabaman transplant, Shawn (Tatum), who edges into NYC’s no-rules fight culture (do these brawl clubs really exist?). While such modest pleasures shouldn’t be confused for the authenticity of Montiel’s 2006 debut, A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints, we’re still in for some spot-on Seventh Avenue street patter and stairwell flirting. For all its punch, Fighting is actually about a verbal community of strangers; even an old lady’s pooch earns a choice put-down: “Dog’s got a demon in it.”

That last bit comes from the seen-it-all Harvey, played by Terrence Howard with a species of cartoonish hustler in mind, maybe Benicio Del Toro’s unintelligible grifter from The Usual Suspects. Harvey spies Shawn in a public squabble, sees the latent gift and takes him in. This fatherly con artist and money manager is a little too good to be true, as is the cute single mom making eyes (Henao). Once you start tugging on a corner of the plot, the whole thing unravels. Shawn rises in reputation; must his ultimate opponent also be from the same Southern hometown, spurring a Freudian grudge? Never mind. Focus on the fighting.—Joshua Rothkopf

Opens Fri.

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